Gift Guide 2008
Gift Guide - Cell Phones
e66

Review: Nokia E66

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E66_05_lowres The Nokia E66 will be hitting the U.S. in the third quarter with an unsubsidized price of $500. While that price may sound like it’s a bit (or a lot) on the high side, the phone actually has a fair number of tricks up its sleeve and will likely appeal mostly to corporate users who may never see the price tag to begin with.

Lest you think this device is all business, there’s a unique (and perhaps a bit gimmicky) “switch mode” that allows you to basically keep all of your work-related stuff in one profile on the phone throughout the day and then switch to a more lifestyle-centric profile at night, complete with a darker theme, friendlier icons, and that kind of stuff. Picture an employee for a large company getting in the elevator at the end of the day, loosening the tie and switching phone modes before getting into a cab to go wait in line for some new overpriced, dark, loud, small-portions restaurant.

Overview and Features

The phone’s build quality is excellent. It feels solid – perhaps a little heavy, but it’s a reassuring type of weight, not a big, fat phone weight. As far as size, it’s about the same as a BlackBerry Pearl, but maybe 25% heavier. The Pearl, if you’ve held one, is really light, though. Here’s a shot of the E66 next to the BB Pearl, the HTC Touch Diamond, and the Motorola Q9C for comparison. They’re all about the same thickness.

size

The phone’s keypad and illuminated function buttons are very sturdy and the metallic frame adds a cool look and provides some protection as well.

keys

Turning the device over, it looks like an actual camera. Under the hood, there’s a 3.2-megapixel autofocusing camera.

camera

Here are some more specs (full specs here):

  • 2.4-inch display, QVGA resolution (240×320), 16.7 million colors
  • Quad-band GSM (GSM 850/900/1800/1900)
  • GPRS, EDGE, WCDMA, HSDPA, 802.11b/g, phone-as-modem connections
  • Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR
  • Speakerphone, voice dialing, voice recorder
  • IMAP4, Exchange, POP3 e-mail
  • Integrated A-GPS and Nokia Maps application
  • Video playback: MPEG-4, 3gp, RealVideo, H.263, H.264
  • Audio playback: AAC, AAC+, MP3, AMR-NB, AMR-WB

Pros

As mentioned before, the solid build quality is a strong selling point for the phone. As for what’s inside the phone, the Symbian OS takes a little getting used to if you haven’t used it before, but wasn’t difficult to master at all. I’ve used Nokia’s internet tablets somewhat extensively and the leap from those to this phone was pretty easy.

Where the Symbian OS really shines is in the application department. This phone had a bunch of cool software on it: an app for downloading audio and video podcasts, Nokia’s music store (depending on the service provider), WMP11 sync, online video and photo sharing, voice recorder, Flash player (yes, Flash!), FM radio, RSS reader, data tethering, instant messaging, video conferencing, VOIP calling, push-to-talk (depends on provider), GPS and maps with landmarking (geotagging) functions, Zip file manager, PDF reader, printing to networked printers, data backup, remote file access, VPN, a barcode reader, and a bunch of other stuff. So yes, it costs $500, but there’s a lot of extra “stuff” that comes with it.

The phone also has a rotation sensor and will flip everything from portrait to landscape when you tilt the phone. You can also silence the ringer by placing the phone face down when a call comes in. These aren’t new features in the cell phone world, but they’re nice touches. All in all, there are a lot of the little things that Nokia does well with this phone, each cropping up the more and more I used the phone. I’m sure I didn’t discover everything, but all the nuances and intangibles were quite nice.

Cons

Battery life was a little short when using a 3G network – around three hours of talk time. When not using data services, though, the battery fares better. I was able to listen to music on the phone for an entire workday with about a half-battery left.

Also, people new to the Symbian OS might find it a bit bland, visually. It’s a relatively pedestrian-looking interface but what it trades in looks, it makes up for in stability and application availability, so it’s kind of a wash.

interface

Finally, there’s the price. It’s gonna be too steep for most average consumers without some sort of carrier subsidy. Businesses would likely do well by this phone, though.

Conclusion

The Nokia E66 is a pretty impressive phone if you’re looking for something solid, stable, and geared for a nice balance of data and phone features. The high price and somewhat unfamiliar operating system might turn American consumers off, but large businesses and world travelers could very well find what they’re looking for in the E66.

E66 Product Page [Nokia.com]

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